UK

BBC Trust To 'Look Afresh' At Jeremy Corbyn 'Shoot-To-Kill' Inaccuracy Findings In Provisional Report

BBC News defends Laura Kuenssberg from 'inaccuracy' claims.

06/01/2017 12:55 GMT | Updated 06/01/2017 15:42 GMT

The BBC Trust is to “look afresh” at the findings of a provisional report concluding Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg inaccurately represented Jeremy Corbyn’s stance on a shoot-to-kill policy for UK police in the event of a terror attack.

The “drafted finding”, leaked to The Herald, relates to an interview with the Labour leader in November 2015 shortly after the Paris terror attacks that left 130 people dead.

In the report shown on the News at Six, Kuenssberg said she asked Corbyn if he were Prime Minister, would he be happy for British police to shoot-to-kill in the event of a similar attack on UK soil.

PA
Jeremy Corbyn and Laura Kuenssberg.

He responded: “I’m not happy with a shoot-to-kill policy in general. I think that is quite dangerous and I think can often be counter-productive. I think you have to have security that prevents people firing off weapons where you can.”

A complaint was made to the BBC Trust, the governing body of the BBC, alleging the full question shown in a longer version of the interview published on the BBC News website was “substantively different” to that paraphrased in the report.

Kuenssberg’s full question was: “But if you were Prime Minister, would you be happy to order people - police or military - to shoot to kill on Britain’s streets?”

In the provisional report, the BBC Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee (ESC), said: “He [Corbyn] was asked about ‘shoot-to-kill’ and he gave an answer about his views on ‘shoot-to-kill’, but in the News at Six piece it was presented as him not supporting armed engagement in an ongoing hostage situation – a scenario that was not put to him.

“The Committee decided there was a significant difference between what Mr Corbyn said and what the report inferred. This had led to a failure of due accuracy.”

The report concluded there was “no evidence of any intent to deceive or distort”, but the failure to observe “due accuracy had, on this occasion, also resulted in a failure of impartiality”.

The complaint was rejected by BBC Audience Services twice then by BBC Editorial Complaints and also by the Trust Unit.

HuffPostUK revealed the day after the BBC report that Corbyn had been forced to ‘clarify’ his stance on the policy after heavy criticism from Labour MPs. 

It has now been appealed to the Trustees and will be published later this month.

The BBC Trust confirmed the report had been leaked but not comment before official publication.

It said the review of the provisional findings is to allow “complainant(s) and the BBC time to comment before an ESC appeal finding is published so that any apparent procedural unfairness or factual error can be brought to the attention of the Committee”.

It added: “This finding isn’t finalised yet and all being well we will be publishing it following the next Editorial Standards Committee meeting some time this month.”

A BBC spokesperson said: “BBC News does not accept the assertions made and the complaint has been rejected on four separate occasions already.

“The Trust has not published a finding regarding this appeal and BBC News has further evidence it is still to present this month before that happens.”

The row over Kuenssberg’s coverage of Corbyn sparked a petition calling for her to be sacked from the BBC.

The person who started it was forced to remove it after the issue became toxic.

They said: “When I started my campaign I was trying to raise a serious issue about what I saw as a reporter not being balanced and fair in the way that the news was covered. My petition has since been hijacked by a group of people who absolutely do not share my views.

“I would like to reassure everyone that I am a passionate advocate for equality in all areas, not just gender equality. This petition has precisely zero to do with gender.

“As a result of the sexist trolls who have attempted to derail my petition, I have decided to take it down.”

The latest findings have reignited the row as many Corbyn supporters today again called for her to be fired.

The final report will be published later this month.